James McQuarrie

A collection of random links and thoughts curated by James McQuarrie


Using solid shampoo – two years on

Towards the end of 2019 I started thinking about how I could lower my personal use of single-use-plastics.

That led me to looking into solid shampoos.

Which in tern led to me learning to make my own solid shampoo in 2020.

Doing that led to me launching Tidy – a solid shampoo bar for men – at the end of 2020.

Now, just over two years since the adventure began I thought I’d share some thoughts on the experience of using solid shampoo by answering some of the questions people ask about them.

Does solid shampoo work?

Yes. For me at least. And for many others I’ve spoken with. They’re not for everyone though!

Like liquid shampoo, it can take trying a few different offerings from different brands to find a solid shampoo that works for you.

I’m biased, but I genuinely do prefer Tidy shampoo over the others I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot!) but some of the customers who’ve tried Tidy do prefer other brands.

If you’ve only tried one brand, or one type of bar from one brand, do try a few others before giving up on solid shampoo for good.

If you’ve not tried one yet, give them a go!

Do shampoo bars last longer than liquid shampoos?

The honest answer is: it depends.

Personally I’ve found a Tidy bar will last me between 35-50 washes depending on how much I use (which is determined by how long my hair is at the time… something that’s varied more than normal over the course of the pandemic) and how I use it.

Lately I’ve been using them as body wash as well as shampoo. That’s reduced how many washes I get per bar a bit, but has eliminated the need for shower gel or other soaps.

Some Tidy customers order a new bar roughly once every 10 weeks. Others order the equivalent of one bar per month.

Your mileage will vary.

It’s worth saying that I’ve also reduced the amount of hair product I use since making the switch to solid shampoo. Tidy bars are designed to mildly condition hair as well as wash it. Which means my hair’s not as “fluffy” and uncontrollable post wash as it once was. That’s led to me not having to use styling wax / putty / gel at all, which has a) reduced my use of single use plastics further, and b) reduced how often I need to wash my hair and c) saved me some money!

Win win win.

Don’t they just turn all mushy after a while like some soap bars?

They can. You do need to look after them. Shampoo bars need to be left somewhere to dry after use. Ideally on a soap dish with drainage of some sort.

I use a recycled mesh soap pad instead of a dish. But as long as it’s raised off a shelf / bath / etc, and can drain and dry any pad, mat, dish will do.

Don’t keep them in those tins that some brands sell them in though, they will definitely turn mushy and messy in those.

Aren’t they a pain to travel with or take to the gym?

Not really, no. While I’m no longer an avid gym goer (no time since becoming a father), and international travel has been off the agenda since the pandemic began, we have travelled to see family a few times over the last few years and I’ve taken my Tidy shampoo with me.

I use a FlatPak Soap Bar Case from Matador to transport my shampoo bar. It’s like a breathable mini dry bag for soap bars. It keeps your bar away from the rest of your wash bag and allows it to air dry when not packed away.

I towel dry my bars before putting them in the FlatPak and then put it in my wash bag while in transit, and get it out and hang it by its clips once we’ve arrived.

Last summer we camped for a few days while away and I’d use the bar in the morning, towel dry it, pop it in the FlatPak and hang the case inside the tent during the day while we were out and about. That worked a treat.

When international travel is back on the agenda, the bonus of a solid shampoo bar is that it doesn’t count towards your limited liquid allowance.

Will you go back?

Not out of choice no. I’m a convert. I like using a solid shampoo, it works just as well (if not slightly better in some cases) than liquid shampoos and by using them I’m taking a small step towards my goal of using less single use plastic.

And even if Tidy doesn’t take off and folks don’t continue to buy my shampoo, I’ve learnt a new skill, I’ve given it a go and I’ll never have to buy shampoo again :)

If you’d like to try making your own solid shampoo, I’ve shared the recipe and method here: How to make your own solid shampoo for men

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